By Ted Shorack
Edited by Clare Hancock
Eugene City Council members stood, covered their hearts, and said the Pledge of Allegiance for the first time Monday, after deciding to say it four times a year and making national news two weeks prior.
On June 27th the council decided against Councilor Mike Clark’s idea to say the pledge before every city council meeting, but compromised with four around significant national holidays such as the Fourth of July.
All members except councilor George Brown, faced the flag and in unison recited the pledge with the public who had come to watch and participate. Brown, who had opposed saying the pledge altogether on June 27th, stood off to the side and waited until it was over to take his seat among the other members.
In contrast, Councilor George Poling stated that he was not ashamed of saying the pledge and that he’d like to say it before every meeting.
Afterwards, 3 members of the Lane County League of Women Voters read the Declaration of Independence. The crowd applauded at the end and Mayor Kitty Piercy shared a personal anecdote. “That reading is special to me and my family, we’re direct descendents of Thomas Nelson, a signer of the Declaration of Independence,” she said.
Many local residents came Monday to support the pledge, wanting it to be recited more than four times a year. Some wore red, white and blue. Veterans came in their navy garrison caps. One wore a white jacket with red and blue fringed sleeves.
“I’m in favor of them saying it every meeting,” said Al Rogers, a WWII veteran—and University of Oregon 1950 graduate. “Thirty-one words is what the Pledge of Allegiance contains; Last time I checked it took me about twelve-seconds,” he told council members during the public forum.
Mark Callahan—the local Eugene man running for president—stood at the podium and spoke sternly to the council. “I’m here tonight to speak about my concern about the dishonorable behavior of the liberal members of this city council that have embarrassed our city over the last couple weeks on a national level.” Members of the crowd applauded after Callahan finished, causing Mayor Piercy to remind everyone that clapping was not allowed during the public forum, “we want everyone to feel safe,” she said.
Some speakers were kinder than others to the council members, but when the public forum had ended Mayor Piercy reached for her gavel and let it be.